Amazing Facts That Will Help You Ace Any U.S. Geography Quiz
You may think your middle school geography class prepared you for any pop quiz — but how much do you really know about the United States?
We’re not just asking you about the capital of Missouri here (by the way, it's Jefferson City); we want you to dig deep to answer questions that show how varied, complicated and gigantic the U.S. really is.
From the Pacific to the Atlantic; from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, here are 30 U.S. geography quiz questions that may just have you stumped.
1. What Is the Highest Mountain in the World?
Hint: It's Not the One You Think
Most people say Mt. Everest, of course, but the highest mountain the world is actually in Hawaii, so long as you measure from it from its base in the Pacific Ocean.
Mauna Kea is its name, and it rises 33,000 feet from its base, although "only" 13,800 feet of that is above water. by comparison, Mt. Everest is 29,035 feet from its base.
2. What State is the Statue of Liberty in?
Hint: It's Not the One You Think, Either
Did you say New York? Sorry! The icon is technically located in New Jersey.
While Liberty Island, where it resides, is in New York, the waters surrounding the island belong to New Jersey, and it's much closer to Jersey's mainland than New York's. (Warning: This is a serious point of contention among locals of the two states.)
If you got this wrong, don't feel too bad, this is one of those geography facts most people get wrong.
3. What's the Least Populated State?
Hint: It's Known More for Bison Than for People
Rhode Island and Delaware, our two smallest states in geographic size, are common choices, but Wyoming is actually the least populated state.
Only a little over 550,000 people call it home.
4. What is the Largest State in Land Mass?
Hint: If It Were its Own Country, It'd Be the 18th Largest in the World
For some reason, people often think it’s Texas, but no way! Alaska is over twice as big as Texas, making it the largest state, by far.
If you look at a map of Alaska compared to the continuous 50 states, it would be large enough to go all the way from New Mexico to the Canadian border. Yep, Alaska is huge.
5. Which U.S. State is Closest to Africa?
Hint: It's More Up North Than You'd Expect
Maine wins here, even though most people think Florida is the right answer. But Quoddy Head in Maine is actually 1,000 miles closer to Morocco than Florida is.
6. What's the Capital of South Carolina?
Hint: It's Not its Most Famous City
Did you immediately respond with “Charleston”? That’s a common error.
Charleston is the oldest city in the state, but Columbia is actually the capital.
7. True or False: Mexico is South of the Border to the United States.
Hint: It's Complicated
False! While this is true in some places, several U.S. states have land that is farther south than Mexico.
These include Arizona, New Mexico and California, but also Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Hawaii, among others.
8. Which State Has the Most Water Within It?
Hint: Having Lots of Lakes Is Not Enough to Win the Price
Michigan is the obvious first guess, given its proximity to the Great Lakes. Or maybe you guessed Minnesota, the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”?
Both are wrong. Alaska has over 91,000 square miles of water, making it the winner.
9. True or False: You Can't See Russia from Anywhere in the United States.
Hint: We Hate to Admit It, But an Infamous Politician Was Right About This
False. Actually, you can.
If conditions are right, parts of Russia are visible from the island of Little Diomede in Alaska.
10. Which State Has the Highest Population Density?
Hint: It's Known for Beaches and Casinos
Washington, D.C. actually wins this one with 10,500 or so people per square mile.
But since it’s a not a state, we’ll say that New Jersey is the most densely populated with about 1,200 people per square mile.
11. What is the Westernmost State Capital in the Mainland United States?
Hint: You should Think More Northwest
Many people think it’s Sacramento or Seattle.
But the winner is actually Salem, in Oregon, which beats out its sister capital cities by not too much.
12. True or False: Reno, Nevada is West of Los Angeles.
Hint: Don't Go With Your Gut
True! Reno is about 85 miles farther west than L.A.
13. What's the Easternmost State in the U.S.?
Hint: The Answer is Mindblowing
Think it’s Maine? Wrong. It’s Alaska, which actually stretches into the Eastern Hemisphere.
14. True or False: Over 40 Buildings in Manhattan Have Their Own Zip Codes.
Hint: Manhattan Buildings Are Huge
It’s true. Manhattan has over 200 zip codes and more than 40 of those are assigned to specific buildings, including the Empire State Building.
15. Which U.S. State Has the Longest Coastline?
Hint: It's a State That Keeps Showing Up Here
It’s not California, Florida or Texas. It's Alaska, whose coast runs for over 6,600 miles.
16. Which Two States Share Borders With 8 Other States Each?
Hint: They're Not the Largest States
The answers are Missouri and Tennessee.
Missouri borders Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.
Tennessee borders Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas…and Missouri.
17. True or False: The United States Borders Two Oceans.
Hint: Think of Whale Migrations
False. The Atlantic, the Pacific and the Arctic Ocean all border on one or more U.S. states.
18. What Is the Longest River in the United States?
Hint: The Answer Will Surprise You
It’s not the Mississippi!
The Missouri River is the longest in the U.S. It’s 2,341 miles, 139 miles longer than the Mississippi.
19. What Is the Deepest Lake in the United States?
Hint: It's Much Further West Than You'd Think
Many folks guess one of the Great Lakes or the Great Salt Lake of Utah.
Nah. Instead, Crater Lake in Oregon is the deepest, at 1,932 feet. In fact, Crater Lake is one of the deepest lakes in the world.
20. True or False: The Largest Freshwater Lake in the World Is in the United States.
Hint: The Answer's in the Lake's Name
True! Sort of.
Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world, and is on the border between the United States and Canada.
21. Which National Park Has a Potentially Destructive Supervolcano?
Hint: It's One of the Most Beautiful Ones
If you've ever seen Yellowstone's Old Geyser burst boiling water out with fearful force, you probably guessed right.
Active volcanic activity is one of the things that makes Yellowstone such a fascinating national park, but it might one day also bring about doom. Underneath the park lies a giant supervolcano that is so powerful, an eruption would spew ash all the way to Florida.
Thankfully, the last time the volcano erupted was 640,000 years ago. Let's hope it never erupts again.
22. True or False: The United States Has the Tallest Tree in the World.
Hint: It's Exactly Where You'd Think It Would Be
Hyperion is a California redwood that is 379-feet tall. The gigantic tree is around 700 to 800 years old and is the tallest known tree on the planet.
The bad news is that you won't be able to visit it since its location is top secret. The good news is that this protects it from jerks who might try to destroy it.
23. Where in the U.S. Can You Find the Largest Cave System in the World?
Hint: You Associate It With Chicken
Most people don't think of caves when they think of Kentucky, which is a shame, given that the state has the largest cave system in the entire world.
Mammoth Cave, which is located in the same national park that bears its name, is about 400 miles. But that's just the part that's been discovered. Scientists think there might be hundreds of miles more.
24. What Was the Original Capital of the U.S.?
Hint: It's Still the Cultural Capital of the Country
As fans of "Hamilton" will know, D.C. was not the original capital of the newly independent United States. As the center of commerce, trade and culture, that honor went to New York City.
The capital moved as a compromise between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. Unlike in the musical, however, Jefferson's reasons for wanting the capital farther south were not for it to be closer to his home but for it to be in a state that allowed slavery.
25. True or False: English Is the Official Language of the U.S.
Hint: Prepare to Be Shocked
Although English is the most widely spoken language in the U.S., it is not, in fact, its official language.
The country doesn't have an official language, and it's probably too late to change that now.
26. How Many States Does the Mississippi River Run Through?
Hint: It's Probably More Than You Think
It may not be the longest river in the U.S., but there's a reason it's the most important. The Mississippi runs through a grand total of 10 states. But its reach is even greater, with a watershed (an area drained by a river) of about 1.2 million square miles, including parts of up to 32 states and two Canadian provinces, according to the National Park Service.
Fun fact: The Mississippi is also one of the most dangerous rivers in the world.
27. Which U.S. Town Has Only One Resident?
Hint: It's Become Famous for It
The town of Monowi, Nebraska, has been making headlines for having a population of exactly one person.
Sole resident, Elsie Eiler, runs the town's tavern, is its post office worker, its single voter and elected mayor. She has no intention of moving away any time soon.
If you get the chance to visit, don't hesitate to do so. Despite its size, Monowi is one of the best small towns in the U.S.
28. True or False: The Grand Canyon Is the Deepest Canyon in the World.
Hint: The U.S. Does Like Superlatives
The deepest canyon in the world is, indeed, in the United States.
It's not, however, the Grand Canyon, but Oregon's lesser-known Hells Canyon, which is up to 8,000-feet deep.
29. Niagara Falls Connects Which Two Lakes?
Hint: If You Think About It, the Answer Is Really Obvious
Besides being a wondrous natural attraction, Niagara Falls serves as the connection between two of the Great Lakes.
Which ones? Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, both of which are divided between the United States and Canada — much like the falls.
30. How Many Large Islands Make Up Hawaii?
Hint: It's More Than Just the Popular Ones
While Hawaii has more than 130 islands total, the state is divided between eight large islands.
Some of them, Hawaii (Big Island), Maui, Oahu and Kauai, are world famous. Molokai is known amongst intrepid travelers who want to go off the beaten path, and Lanai makes headlines for being privately owned despite having islanders who live in it.
The other two islands are lesser-known. They are Kahoolawe and Niihau. Entrance to Kahoolawe is prohibited because the uninhabited island is dangerous — both because of its rough geography and because it was used by the U.S. military as a bomb testing site. Niihau is inhabited, but no outsider is allowed in unless they are invited by someone who lives there.